Florida is a great place to live, work, and enjoy some time off. Unfortunately, careless people and profit-hungry companies can place your safety at risk across our state. A speeding driver could ram your car after losing control on I-75. A negligent employer may offer employees an unsafe environment to work in. When accidents happen, these careless parties can be named in personal injury lawsuits.
Thousands of Florida residents were forced to file personal injury lawsuits in 2022. Many residents were in desperate need of support to pay medical bills after suffering an injury. Others were seeking justice after being mistreated at work or suffering harm by a business owner’s or company’s negligence.
These were victims that required real help and turned to the law to force those at-fault to take responsibility for what they’d done.
The Biggest Florida Personal Injury Verdicts Making Headlines in 2022
The Tampa Law Firm, Robert Sparks Attorneys, examined Verdictsearch.com data from 2022 to determine some of the biggest personal injury verdicts, judgments, and settlements for the year in Florida. Robert Sparks Attorneys wanted to demonstrate what’s possible for victims when they seek justice for the suffering they’ve been put through.
These are a few of the Florida personal injury cases that earned the biggest awards for victims and their families in court or in a settlement:
- Army Veterans Sue Over Hearing Loss – $110,000,000 Verdict –
Two Army Vets started to lose their hearing while serving their country starting between 2005 and 2011. Claims filed by Ronald Elliot Sloan and William Wayman documented injuries involving tinnitus and partial loss of hearing. The lawsuit alleged Fraud and Products Liability on hearing protection made by 3M Company and subsidiaries. A U.S. District Court Jury in Pensacola awarded the two veterans $15 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages in January of 2022. Other victims are suing 3M in a class action lawsuit.
- Bar Sued After Patron Causes Deadly I-95 Crash — $95,527,108 Verdict –
A 23-year-old woman driving a sedan was killed and her 21-year-old brother was permanently injured in a 2015 drunk-driving crash on I-95 in Miami-Dade. A drunk driver struck their car in a wrong-way collision. The brother in the front passenger seat was in a coma for months and can no longer walk or talk due to brain damage and other injuries. The lawsuit was leveled against the hotel restaurant and its owners that served the drunk driver alcohol. The Miami-Dade County Circuit Court awarded the parents of the victims a 95-million-dollar verdict. The award included $59 million for the medical care of the son and $37 million in damages to the parents.
- Army Veteran Sues Over Defective Earplugs – $77,500,000 Verdict –
Another lawsuit won against 3M Company and its subsidiaries over defective earplugs (see above). This verdict came down in May of 2022. James E. Beal was completing basic training in the United States Army in 2005 when he started experiencing tinnitus. He then started suffering from partial hearing loss after an overseas deployment. Earplugs that didn’t truly protect eardrums during exercises were shown to be responsible. He received hearing aids in both ears, but nothing else can be done to restore his hearing.
- Woman with Low Blood Sodium Level Suffers Brain Damage After Care at Tampa Hospital – $68,635,397 Verdict –
A 20-year-old college student was rushed to Advent Health Tampa after she collapsed in 2017. Lawyers for Miranda Jean Crohan used medical expert witnesses to show that a low blood sodium level was overtreated by four critical care physicians doctors there leading to severe, permanent brain damage. The victim is now incapacitated and in need of lifelong care. In November of 2022, a Hillsborough County Circuit Court jury awarded a verdict that included $50 million for the woman’s pain and suffering and more than $17 million for her medical expenses.
- Green Beret Sues Over Hearing Loss — $50,000,000 Verdict –
Another hearing loss verdict against earplug maker 3M and subsidiaries. Luke Vilsmeyer, a Green Beret in the U.S. Army, first noticed hearing loss in both ears in 2008. The plaintiff’s neurotology expert testified that Vilsmeyer has the most severe type of tinnitus.
His legal team held 3M responsible for a design defect in earplugs and a failure to warn all users of the earplugs once a problem was identified. A jury ruled in favor of Mr. Vilsmeyer in March of 2022.
- Worker Injured in Front-Loader Accident in Davie FL – $23,888,520 Verdict —
An inexperienced 22-year-old construction laborer, Jovanni Verduzco, was allowed to operate a front-end “Bobcat” loader without a check of his past experience or any training. While on a construction site in Davie, Florida in 2016 he was ejected from the loader and trapped between the machine and the machine’s bucket. He remained trapped for over an hour and the rescue was televised on local tv stations. His legs were crushed and he couldn’t walk without aid for an entire year. Mr. Verduzco has gone through leg surgeries and spinal surgeries, and he deals with daily pain. A Broward County Circuit Court ruled that his employers were liable for an unsafe workplace, negligent supervision, and negligent training.
- Driver Injured in Fiery Miami Interstate Car Accident – $20,700,000 Verdict —
In 2019, Michael Edwards was driving a car on I-95 in Miami when he was sideswiped by another motorist in an SUV. The driver’s side of the plaintiff’s car was sent into a median and caught fire. Edwards suffered third-degree burns to 20 percent of his body, along with multiple bone fractures and lung bruising. He required skin graft surgeries and now has visible scarring. The skin injuries have affected his ability to be in the sun. This limits his earning potential and keeps him from swimming and playing soccer as he once did. Mr. Edwards sued the estate of the deceased at-fault driver and the company that owned the SUV.
- Woman Injured in Accident Caused by U.S. Mail Driver – $18,360,396 Decision —
A lawsuit filed against the U.S. Postal Service earned a pedestrian accident involving a mail truck earned the victim an 18-million dollar judgment in U.S. District Court in Miami. Maya Nainani sustained respiratory failure and brain damage. She has a tracheostomy tube in her neck. Her medical and hospital bills totaled more than $5.4 million. The judge was convinced that the USPS employee was not monitoring the road ahead properly as the driver approached an intersection.
- Woman Suffers Spinal Injury in Accident on I-295 in Jacksonville – $16,433,353 Verdict —
26-year-old Jessica Long was struck from behind by another driver on Interstate 295 in Jacksonville in 2018. She suffered neck and spine injuries including nerve impingement and herniated disks. The legal battle to get Jessica Long injury compensation began in 2019. In February of 2022, a Duval County Circuit Court Jury decided on a 16-million dollar verdict against Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company.
- Teen Struck and Killed on Interstate Due to Hillsborough County Deputies Mistake – $15,000,000 Verdict –
In 2014, a 14-year-old student visiting the Florida State Fair in Tampa was expelled by law enforcement from the fair. The teen was then allowed to attempt to cross Interstate 4 where he was struck and killed. A U.S. District Court Jury in Tampa awarded the parents of the victim a 15-million dollar wrongful death verdict. The jury decided that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department was 90% liable for the tragic accident for not seeing to the safety of the teen victim after his removal from the fair.